Rodgers hails Green Bay hunger after 'unbelievable' late drama
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of his side's Super Bowl triumph six years ago, was left almost speechless after his team's nailbiting 34-31 win over the Dallas Cowboys in a divisional play-off showdown on Sunday.
After squandering an 18-point lead they established during the second quarter, the Packers held off a thrilling Cowboys comeback with successive field goals by Mason Crosby, the last of which was set up by another bit of play-off magic by Rodgers.
Rodgers, taking over the ball with 44 seconds left and the score 31-31, connected on a stunning 35-yard completion to tight-end Jared Cook, who nimbly tip-toed inbounds with just three seconds left on the clock.
Crosby then delivered for the final time, kicking the game-winner from 51 yards just inside the left upright after his first attempt had been waived off as Dallas called time out right before the snap.
"Unbelievable effort. What a game, what a game," Rogers said afterwards, having briefly paused to gather his thoughts after the frenetic end to a play-off classic at AT&T Stadium.
"Jared just kept on coming and I tried to put it in a good spot and he made a hell of a catch. And then Mason, Mason kicked twice. Unbelievable.
"It's a different energy with this team, the guys are very hungry, there's a stronger belief," Rodgers said. "This one is special - more special than we've had in a while."
Next Sunday, the Packers will take on the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game to decide which team reaches the Super Bowl but for the moment, Rogers wanted to savour the victory.
"We're just going to enjoy this game," the six-time Pro Bowl selection said after completing 28 of 43 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception. We are going to celebrate this, then we are going to move on to Atlanta."
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy applauded the sheer grit shown by his team.
"I can't say enough about my football team's resiliency," McCarthy said. "Obviously a fantastic finish. The execution there, the throw by Aaron and the catch by Jared and Mason being able to knock it through twice - a pretty good insight into who we are as a football team."
In Kansas City the Pittsburgh Steelers did not spend much time in the end zone at Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs. In fact, it was the home team that scored the game's only touchdowns.
But the Steelers had the strong right leg of kicker Chris Boswell and combined with the efforts along of running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown, it was enough to beat the Chiefs 18-16.
The victory sends the Steelers to the AFC Championship Game next Sunday against the New England Patriots in Foxborough. Boswell made all six of his field goal attempts, while the Steelers' offense produced a lot of yards but not a single touchdown.